Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Turk's Cap Lily

The Turk's cap lily (Lilium martagon) has leaf formation similar to the drawing on fol 5r of the Voynich Manuscript (Beinecke 408). The roots of the plant are used to relive heart diseases.

The best proposal for this page so far comes from Theodore Petersen, Ethel Voynich's friend who came up with the Indian cucumber in 1930s. The flower, the berry and the leaves match perfectly... Medeola Virginiana, however, is a North American plant, which would mean the VMs was written at least decades after its parchment production. Unless experts can suggest similar plant from Europe.



  1. Hi: Are you saying that the green leaves of the Voynich resemble the purple petals of the flower? I agree with that, if that is what you mean. Rich SantaColoma

  2. That too. I don't know. As a whole I get the same feeling from both. I think the artist/s didn't know how to draw flowers more complicated than daisies and thistles and used more abstract symbols for all orchid-like,lily-like flowers. This is what I think - it doesn't mean it is so. The Turk's Lily cap is closer to the f5r than the one proposed so far. Edith Sherwood has Wolf’s bane (Arnica montana), Ethel Voynich Herba Paris which is on another page.
    Petersen has a really good proposal - I like it equally as the one here - Indian cucumber (Medeola Virginiana) - it has black berry and similar green leaves formation - it is North American flower as I understand.

  3. Ellie,

    My Sunset Western Garden Book mentions that L.martagon (Turk's Cap Lily) comes in "purplish-pink, recurved, pendant flowers, also comes in white. The other interesting thing about this particular lily is that it is "an ancestor of Paisley hybrids"

    While you're at it, you might like to compare this specimen with my discussion of Vms folio 49v (which defeated Brigadier General John H. Tiltman's decoding efforts). Folio 49v is very similar in appearance to the LILY which is hereupon being discussed. . I have translated and posted my findings in re f49v /Persian/Turk-TURBAN Ranunculus more fully on other of Nick's pages: "Species CROCUS Persian": That is the sum translation of the first, un-numbered, line of script. If you would like to see the full line of Vms f49v script's syllabl- by-syllable verbosity, just say "yes".

    If you would like me to translate this, the Turk's CAP LILY, all you have to do is indicate "yea" or "nay". I won't proceed until you indicate.

    Sincerely yours,


  4. Have you any reason for wanting answers only from Europe or the Americas?

  5. Hi Diane,
    Any answer from the Old World,New world and the whole world is welcomed here.